Journal entry, 9 Aug 2018: Listening to a light history programme on Radio Four, called ‘Did the Victorians Ruin the World?’ This episode is all about beards. Victorian soldiers and writers and scientists and explorers all had beards. In the bedroom this show was playing on my Pure DAB whilst in the living room I had the TV set tuned to R4. The faint delay between broadcasts created a fake echo which made it sound as if I was in a cathedral.
Sometimes a greater understanding of a nation’s history can be gained by playful discussion of apparently frivolous aspects.
Journal Entry, 20 May 2019: Jacob Rees-Mogg is an eccentric Conservative MP who is famous for being unaware of anything that has taken place in the past 100 years or so. I exaggerate slightly; but he makes clear that he is a determined Catholic who places church doctrine above the wishes of the Whips’ office. And he has recently written – if that isn’t too strong a word for it – a book about twelve eminent Victorians.
The book has been savaged by the critics for its dire prose and for having a narrow, fatally skewed view of Victorian society. He tries desperately to paint Victorian Britain as the grand theatre of stability where great ideas such as Brexit were originally germinated. And in one exchange on Radio Four, he was accused of completely misunderstanding the behaviour of General Charles Napier in Sindh.
Perhaps Rees-Mogg should try going to work in a factory to learn about modern Britain, and how it differs from Victorian England. Or you could get him to spend some time helping out at a branch of B-and-Q. Some baffled customers might ask him for advice on which is the best type of household emulsion paint, and he would say ‘Dunno, mate; paint is paint, innit?’ When what he should really say is that some brands of paint are more expensive than others because they are carefully tested – alongside rival products – to monitor the following properties:
Liquid paint properties (skinning, condition in container, coarse particles and foreign matter, density or weight per gallon, fineness of dispersion, flash point, odor, absorption, colorant acceptance, dilution stability, package stability, heat stability, and settling); coating application and film formation characteristics (brush application properties, brush drag, roller application properties, roller spatter, spray application properties, touch-up uniformity, consistency (low-shear viscosity), rheological properties of non-Newtonian liquids, sag resistance, levelling properties, and drying properties); appearance of dry film (color appearance, color differences by visual comparison, color differences using instrumental measurements, directional reflectance, gloss, sheen, hiding power, and yellowness index); properties of dry film (abrasion resistance, adhesion, flexibility, resistance to household chemicals, color change of white enamels, washability and cleansability, blister resistance, exposure resistance, chalking, checking, cracking, erosion, flaking, mildew resistance, and fume resistance); and Coating Analysis (chemical analysis, volatile content, nonvolatile volume content, water content, pigment content, pigment analysis, nonvolatile vehicle content, vehicle separation, and nonvolatile vehicle identification).
Journal entry, 15 Jan 2004: I can’t remember a great deal about the children’s home called Jasmine. Certain pop songs on the radio take me back – Video Killed, Reasons to be cheerful, Stay With Me ‘til Dawn, Livin’ on an Island. Each year we would go to spend a week on holiday in a caravan at Great Yarmouth (including a free 7-inch single as a gift) and one year I bought ‘Tragedy’ and the following year I bought ‘Breathing’.
We had a swing hanging from a tree in the back garden. I used to enjoy swinging on this and then jumping off in mid-air. Of course, I once misjudged the landing and bashed my nose. Blood everywhere. That was the end of that.
The Indie has a ‘Your Money’ section where they offer financial advice. One client was a graduate radio worker on 14 grand a year, and the columnist advised that they could buy a 3-bed house in Leeds for 110 grand.
Journal entry, 4 Dec 2003: Last night to S- for fish, chips, beer and sex. We watched a TV show called ‘Body Snatchers’ all about parasites – microbes, worms etc – that infest people and animals.
Fascinating – cats carry a microbe which they pass to rodents to make them slow and stoopid and thus easier to catch. People catch this from their pets and show delayed reactions.
Eradication of worms has corresponded with recent increase in allergy problems. And women are able to identify men with better immune response and tend to find them more attractive.
So when John Ricketts commented ‘I bet he doesn’t remember eating those’ (referring to slugs gathered round a pavement pizza) he could have been right.
In the local news – a gifted graduate chemist who won half-a-million in the lottery has jumped to his death.
Journal entry, 2 Jun 04: Went to bank and updated passbooks: TESSA 4018, Mini-ISA 2546, Abbeysave 3472. [Note: with these savings, I had no need of PPI on my credit card from MBNA]
Down in St Austell, the local social club has a savings and draw scheme where members pay regular instalments and one lucky winner each month gets £100. On one occasion, the number drawn belonged to a recently-deceased club member. And rather than give the prize to his widow, the committee insisted on a redraw.